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I believe that book reviews are critical for sales. They are up there with writing a great book and using pro editors and cover designers.
There’s no better way to generate buzz for your books than to get some positive reviews. Heck, even negative reviews can generate some buzz! But how do you go about getting those reviews, and what should you pay?
Is it worth paying for reviews?
That all depends on your goals. While there are some major book review services that provide reviews at a fee (Kirkus and Foreword are the most popular), that fee might be out of your price range. Are you willing to spend $400 to get a book review from one of the biggest and most respected book reviewers in the business? Keep in mind it’s not necessarily a good review, either. It’s an honest review of your work, and it’s coming from tough reviewers.
More importantly, there might not be any benefit to this. Book sales probably won’t magically increase after a review by Kirkus or Foreword is published. What you can do is show other people the review to convince them to buy your book, which can be important. “Here,” you can say, “look. Someone thinks the book is good! So buy a copy why don’t you?”
This isn’t a unique sort of thing anymore. Google “15 minute book reviews” or “San Francisco Book Review” or “Pacific Book Review.” You can get reviewed by these organizations … but they can be costly. There are dozens more book review web sites that offer “expedited” reviews—basically, guarantees that they’ll review your book … for $150 or so. This adds up quick.
Reviews for the price of a book
So let’s talk about the cheaper ideas instead. And when I say “cheap,” I mean in most cases “the cost of shipping a book” and nothing more. Because it turns out there are still plenty of places online that still provide reviews for free.
First, let’s start with Midwest Book Review. This is a perfect place to start. It’s respected and run by good people who don’t charge you for reviews of print editions. They also make a point of making their reviews available to libraries and keep the reviews up on their site.
Next up, head on over to Reader Views, which allows you to send a copy of your book for free. They also have express services and other publicity services. They’re willing to review galley submissions. They have lots of dedicated reviewers, too, which helps your chances.
When you’re done there, take a look around The Book Reporter. While they’re a little backed-up most of the time, it’s still worth sending out a copy. Why? Because they provide comprehensive reviews and they do it without charging a fee, that’s why. Also, the site is easy to navigate and has a strong following from book lovers.
Here are a few more worth trying, all of them willing to accept either print copies or electronic versions without a review fee. Note many of these are particular about getting a Kindle version:
1. Kindle Obsessed
2. The Kindle Book Review
3. Red Adept Reviews
So there’s a good start, if you ask me. What? You didn’t ask me? I’ve just been spouting all of this wonderful information for no reason? Well, as long as I’m talking to myself, I should probably mention that there are hundreds—hundreds—more book-obsessed bloggers who are more than happy to review books for their sites and don’t charge a fee, either. Here’s a giant book blogger directory.
Please be patient
One note of caution: as you peruse these various sites, you’re likely to find more than a few statements such as “Due to overwhelming demand …” and “Please be patient …”
Why is this?
Because there are a lot of authors. A lot. Likewise, there are a lot of books. And there are very few reviewers for all these books, so they have a tendency to gather on reviewers’ desks. Be patient. Give them time. Cherish them. And while you’re waiting, go on Amazon.com and buy a few of your fellow authors’ books. Support each other. Read. It will make you a better writer. And it’ll make us all a little richer.
Do you have any tips for getting book reviews? Any favorite places to pitch?
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons hawkexpress